Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Three Sisters ~ Understanding

"But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of 
the Almighty giveth them understanding."
(Job 32:8)

     "You just don't understand!" 

     "I heard exactly what you said, and you..."

     How many times have you been in that common scenario--struggling to keep your own side while proving to the other person that you "understand"? Sure, you might have heard every word they articulated, but did you truly understand them?

"The hunger to be understood. Few needs of the human heart are greater than the need to be understood--to have a voice that is heard, respected, and valued--to have influence. Most believe that the key to influence is communication--getting your point across clearly and speaking persuasively. In fact, if you think about it, don't you find that, while others are speaking to you, instead of really listening to understand, you are often busy preparing your response? The real beginning of influence comes as others sense you are being influenced by them--when they feel understood by you--that you have listened deeply and sincerely, and that you are open. But most people are too vulnerable emotionally to listen deeply--to suspend their agenda long enough to listen with understanding before they communicate their own ideas. Our culture cries out for, even demands, understanding and influence. However, the principle of influence is governed by mutual understanding born of the commitment of at least one person to deep listening first." (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, Forward, pg. 10) 

"Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me."
(Job 34:34)

Understanding ~ The ability to comprehend the perspectives of others

    Webster defines understanding as "The faculty of the human mind by which it apprehends the real state of things presented to it, or by which it receives or comprehends the ideas which others express and intend to communicate. The understanding is called, also, the intellectual faculty. It is the faculty by means of which we obtain a great part of our knowledge." (W. 1828 dictionary)

The Value of Understanding
     Remember the two distinctive descriptions of value that characterize a virtuous woman and wisdom? Understanding, like wisdom and the virtuous woman, is given the same recognition as having worth that exceeds the value of rubies. 

"Happy is the man...that getteth understanding. For the merchandise 
of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. 
She is more precious than rubies
and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of 
days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor. 
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one 
that retaineth her." 
(Proverbs 3:13-18)

     It is interesting to note that the only woman in the Bible to have been described as a woman of good understanding was Abigail--the wife of Nabal and, later, King David. "...and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance..." (I Samuel 25:3a) She was in a difficult predicament with a selfish and "churlish" man who had no heart to change. When the king arrived on her doorstep, fuming and ready to avenge himself of one  ill-mannered citizen, it was this beautiful woman of understanding who, not only spared the life of her husband, but also, by her gracious influence and careful persuasion, prevented David, a man after God's own heart, from making a rash and harmful decision that would have been a breach in his reputation. And notice how God took care of the rest. As she endeavored to be a a mediator of peace between two rivals, prudently applying a heart of understanding, this virtuous woman is now known as one of the most renowned representations of how a disaster can be turned into a blessing through understanding. (See I Samuel 25:1-42)  

How Can I Get Understanding?
"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." 
(Psalm 119:130)

     Seeking to understand the heart of God through His Word will enable you to understand the hearts of those around you. Without first devoting yourself to deeply know Him, you will never be able to truly understand the people in your sphere of influence. But, as you learn HIS heart, reading His Word and learning to deeply listen to His voice, communing with Him on a daily, moment-by-moment basis, you will then begin to hear the unspoken, see the unseen, and feel the silent implications in the lives you are closest to--you will begin to understand deeply.

"Whence then cometh wisdom?
and where is the place of understanding?
 ...Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding."
(Job 28:20, 28)

Understanding Applied
"A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly." 
(Proverbs 21:28)

     Upon the foundation of the fear of God, wisdom is manifested, and, as wisdom is applied, understanding is nurtured. Like as with wisdom, you must desire to have a heart of understanding; you must be willing to surrender your "rights" of being right and seek to deeply listen to the hearts of those around you. Sincere understanding requires looking beyond yourself and launching into a path not easily trod; it requires a paradigm shift, a look from the perspective of another to recognize their heartfelt needs and the strength to draw them to higher ground. It does not indulge in someone's pity-party, yet it does weep with those who weep. It does not bask in the thrill of gossip, yet it does help to bear the burdens of another. A person with a heart of understanding has the ability to see through the eyes of another, yet also has the outside perspective in order to bring health and harmony. Understanding is not a gift, it is an endeavor.

"In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found." (Proverbs 10:13a)

"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings." (Proverbs 1:5-6)

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